Tigers

Belton’s Slade LeBlanc (10) breaks through the Killeen defense on a long touchdown run in the Tigers’ 45-17 win Friday night.

BELTON — Belton forced a season-high seven turnovers and shut out Killeen in the second half en route to a 45-17 win in a District 12-6A finale Friday night at Tiger Field.

The win was a season-best third straight and guaranteed the Tigers (6-4, 5-2) their first winning season since 2018, also the last time they made the playoffs.

Belton will travel to Duncanville for a bi-district playoff game at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

After turning over the ball three times in a chaotic first half that featured seven combined turnovers, the Tigers settled down in the second half, using a steadying game on the ground from Slade LeBlanc and another stingy defensive effort to shut down any hopes Killeen (2-8, 0-7) had of a comeback attempt.

Bryan Henry caught three touchdown passes from Ty Brown among his game-high five receptions for 91 yards, including a diving grab that first tipped off teammate Seth Morgan’s hands for a 14-yard score late in the third that accounted for the game’s final touchdown.

After Killeen pulled to within four points late in the second quarter, Belton scored the final 24 points.

Brown finished the night 11-for-23 for 225 yards and a season-high four touchdowns.

LeBlanc opened the scoring for Belton in each half with TD runs of 55 yards and 39 yards, respectively, as the junior finished with a game-best 170 yards rushing on 19 carries.

After the game was delayed nearly 45 minutes as the teams waited for officials to arrive, Belton quickly built a 21-point lead in the first 5 minutes, forcing turnovers on three of Killeen’s first four drives as well as a three-and-out on the Kangaroos’ opening possession.

The Tigers took only two plays to score when LeBlanc ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with 10:27 left in the first.

Belton’s Kage Carmichael recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting up a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Henry, their first of two TD connections in the first half.

It was the first of three turnovers forced by Carmichael, who also intercepted two Roderick Norman passes, the first of which set up the Tigers’ third touchdown — a 45-yard pass from Brown to AJ Baird when Brown rolled right to escape pressure and found a wide-open Baird down the right sideline.

It gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead with 7:39 left in the first, but Killeen scored the next 17 points to stay in the mix, the last of which came on a 42-yard scoring pass from Norman to Gregory Gant on which Norman retreated nearly 10 yards to retrieve an errant snap then recovered to find Gant for the score with 1:39 left in the first half.

Belton still had time to respond, though, after Henry returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tigers 40-yard line and another 15 yards was tacked on for a Killeen penalty, setting up the Tigers inside Killeen territory.

Belton was backtracking after a Tyquan Scoby sack of Brown set up third-and-goal from the 24-yard line but, following a timeout, Brown found Henry in traffic in the middle of the field for the long touchdown pass that moved Belton’s lead to 28-17 by halftime.

Belton’s Sam Ramirez accounted for the Tigers’ other first-half turnover with a fumble recovery, while Killeen’s Richard Morris had an interception and Scoby had a strip-sack that set up the Kangaroos’ first touchdown. Anthony McHenry also had a fumble recovery as the Kangaroos forced three turnovers in first 24 minutes.

Belton’s Noah Newman added an interception in the second half as the Tigers recovered four fumbles and had three picks.

BELTON 45, KILLEEN 17

Killeen 0 17 0 0 — 17

Belton 21 7 14 3 — 45

Bel — Slade LeBlanc 55 run (Zach White kick)

Bel — Bryan Henry 27 pass from Ty Brown (White kick)

Bel — AJ Baird 45 pass from Brown (White kick)

Kil — Emory Arthur 13 run (Noriel Gomez kick)

Kil — Gomez 31 field goal

Kil — Gregory Gant 42 pass from Roderick Norman (Gomez kick)

Bel — Henry 24 pass from Brown (White kick)

Bel — LeBlanc 39 run (White kick)

Bel — Henry 14 pass from Brown (White kick)

Bel — White 44 field goal

TEAM STATISTICS

Kil Bel

First downs 10 18

Rushes-yards 24-31 41-227

Passing yards 124 225

Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-21-3 11-23-1

Punts-average 3-23.0 3-43.3

Fumbles-lost 6-4 4-2

Penalties-yards 6-45 10-74

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Killeen: Arthur 12-21, Cade Searcy 5-10, Jacobia Thomas 1-20, De’Van’Te Johnson 4-7, team 2-(-27); Belton: LeBlanc 19-170, Elijah Warner 9-37, Ritchie Willess 6-10, Brown 2-(-18), Dante Hudson 1-(-2), Ayon York 4-30.

PASSING — Killeen: Norman 5-14-2-97, Searcy 3-7-1-27; Belton: Brown 11-23-1-225.

RECEIVING — Killeen: Thomas 4-62, Lamarrion Cotton 2-11, Ivory Washington 1-9, Gant 1-42; Belton: Henry 5-91, Baird 1-45, Seth Morgan 3-34, LeBlanc 1-20, Warner 1-19.